Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Maestro of Alpine climbing Marcel Remy still scaling mountains at 98



Maestro of Alpine climbing Marcel Remy still scaling mountains at 98

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Swiss 98-years-old veteran Alpinists Marcel Remy poses for a picture at the indoor climbing centre in Villeneuve on the eastern shores of Lake Geneva. AFP

Maestro of Alpine climbing Marcel Remy still scaling mountains at 98

Marcel Remy is the grand old man of Swiss Alpinists, and with his sure and steady progress as he conquers a climbing wall, few would realise he is 98-years-old.

Week in, week out, every Monday morning, Remy drives his old Toyota to the indoor climbing centre in Villeneuve on the eastern shores of Lake Geneva, where he meets his son Claude to plot a path to the top.

The veteran slowly puts on his climbing shoes and harness and having picked out his ascent route, makes his way to the 16-metre high wall.

“It gives me a lot of pleasure because you have to work, think and surpass yourself; that’s what suits me well,” Remy said, between his two morning climbs.

“I do it for my health – that’s the first thing. I carry on for my muscles, because I’ve noticed quite often that if I stop for two or three weeks, it’s much harder to start again. It’s better to keep coming often.”

Remy said the secret to his continued success was pacing himself.

“It’s the rhythm that you have to take – for breathing, for the movements,” he explained.

“If I go beyond that, there’s a price to pay afterwards. I can’t tell you exactly what, but either the shoulders or the muscles. It’s better to go calmly, without over-exertion – and then it works.”

‘Do or die’

Climbing has always been major part of Remy’s life. Brought up on tales of the mountains, he never stopped going off to discover the great outdoors and the Alps became his playground.

Remy worked on the Swiss railways and spent all his free time in the mountains, taking his two sons with him.

“He was a tough dad. With him it was do or die, whatever the conditions,” said his oldest son Claude, 68.

But despite his ruggedness, he knew how to pass on his passion for the Alps. Claude and his 65-year-old brother Yves have also become well-known in the climbing world.

In August 2020, the top French climbing magazine Grimper devoted 40-odd pages to their exploits and the most impressive climbs they have accomplished together.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Climbing has always been a major part of Remy’s life. Brought up on tales of the mountains, he never stopped going off to discover the great outdoors and the Alps became his playground. AFP

Nowadays, the roles are reversed and it’s Claude guiding his father as he makes his second ascent of the morning at the Villeneuve climbing hall, one of the biggest in Switzerland.

This time, Remy is the first one up the route, making it all the harder.

He scales the first few metres with no trouble at all but in the upper sections, he struggles for several minutes to find the breakthrough that will take him to the top.

It is only with an agile jump that he finally unlocks the path to the summit, nimbly springing off his left foot and instantly landing on the same toehold with his right.

“It’s good!” he says, out of breath, before making his way down.

Motivation

Back at the bottom, sitting on a bench for a well-earned rest, he clenches his fists and says to his son: “I’m happy.”

Claude explained: “He’s a tough character. He’s very resistant to hardship.

“Even if it’s a very difficult section on the wall, as we saw towards the end, he searches and finally works out how to resolve it because he’s motivated.”

Claude said most people were stunned when they find out how old his father is, but the respect flows in both directions.

“He inspires great admiration in all age groups, even among the very young,” but even so, “he’ll look at how young people climb and try to copy their movements”.

Though he mostly climbs indoors these days, Remy still does sorties into the mountains.

In 2017, at the age of 94, he conquered the Miroir de l’Argentine, a Swiss climbing classic with its 500 metres of limestone wall.

And he shows no sign of stopping.

“If I’m still enjoying it and feeling good, why not continue?” he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • PM imposes nationwide Covid restrictions, curfew over Delta scare

    Prime Minister Hun Sen late on July 28 instructed the municipal and provincial authorities nationwide to strictly enforce Covid-19 measures including curfew for two weeks from July 29 midnight through August 12 to stem the new coronavirus Delta variant. The instruction came shortly after he issued a directive

  • Two luxury hotels latest quarantine options for inbound travellers

    The Inter-Ministerial Committee to Combat Covid-19 has designated two luxury hotels as alternative quarantine options for travellers who wish to enter Cambodia through Phnom Penh International Airport – Sokha Phnom Penh Hotel & Residence and the Courtyard by Marriott Phnom Penh. In a notice detailing guidelines issued

  • Provinces on Thai borders put in lockdown amid Delta fears

    The government has decided to place several border provinces in lockdown for two weeks in a bid to prevent the new coronavirus Delta variant spreading further into community. According a directive signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen late on July 28, the provinces include Koh Kong,

  • Visa A holders get to quarantine at Himawari Hotel

    The Ministry of Health has permitted foreign diplomats, UN and International NGO officials to undergo quarantine at Himawari Hotel in the capital in case they do not have a separate place suitable for this purpose, but the government would not be responsible for the expenses.

  • Jabs for kids bring hope for school reopenings

    Cambodia is tentatively planning to reopen schools – at least at the secondary level – when the vaccination of children aged 12-17 is completed, even though daily transmissions and deaths in other age groups remain high. Schools across the country have been suspended since March 20, one month

  • China denies Mekong hacking

    As the US and its allies joined hands last week to expose what they allege to be China’s Ministry of State Security’s malicious cyber activities around the world, the attention also turned to Cambodia with the US Department of Justice claiming that four